Freak, Antiques, and Uniques in Salem
And so we're off! Time to kick summer in its stinky ol' butt and get on to Fall, and all of the things that come with it. Now I'm cheating a little here, since this article is on something I did a few months ago, but I feel it will fit well enough. I certainly don't have anything else planned.
As much as I dislike Facebook and most social media except Instagram (Please Subscribe, I'll be your friend), the event feed is actually rather useful. Whilst finding something to do on the weekend, this event popped up. Now I've been somewhat hesitant about traveling to Salem after battling traffic last year. The accused witches in the 1600's had a rough time, sure, but they never lived in a time where they had to drive around that city. Makes you think...
Aaaaaanyway, the event of interest was called Freak, Antiques, and Uniques. It was basically a craft fair of the odd and weird variety that was set to take place in the center of Salem, MA. I really didn't need any more knick-knacks around the house, but it was something to do, and I was curious to see how Salem felt when there weren't roughly 300,000 people swarming the streets.
Much to my delight, I was able to park just off the highway for a total of $3 and walk right into the central strip. Right past a small mall is a corridor that has plenty of shops and wax museum and such. Then just beyond that is the old Town Hall, or town meeting house, or some such. Both floors were taken up, so I made the rounds.
The first booth was selling human remains and 18th century doctors' notes. These were things like prescriptions for cocaine or other highly controlled substances in today's world. Most of the other booths were fairly evenly split between taxidermy and witchy inspired clothing. Much of the taxidermy featured animal skulls, but there were a fair amount of feathers and insects. One booth had a quarter vending machine. I put in a coin and out popped an egg. Inside was a scrap of a rabbit pelt.
Often the skulls were combined with flowers or sticks, and then arranged in some sort display. They were cool to look at, but I just couldn't imagine how I would display such a thing. The pewter baby head above was probably the coolest thing I saw at the event. 15 years ago, I would have picked it up for sure. Now I'm old, and I know the chore of dusting. That dictates much of my decision making at the moment.
Many of the vendors along the walls were selling either artwork or prints. One set featured the grey aliens interacting with key points in history. I probably spent the most amount of time here, thumbing through each of them. There were plenty of regular prints too. I almost pulled the trigger on a few, it was just as fun to browse.
I checked out the upstairs portion, which was largely more of the same. A fair amount of books, comics, and jewelry made from plastic beads. If I'm honest, I probably spent more time checking out the historic rooms off to the side. I'm a sucker for classic architecture from eras gone by.
So enough of that. I had to check out the rest of the town while I was at it. And by the rest of the town, I mean the cemetery across the street. During peak season, they throttle the amount of people who can enter at a given time. Often this is accounting for the tours that snake around the area. Luckily there weren't many people, and we were able to just wander on in.
The one benefit to going during prime season was attending said tour. This provided some of the background information so I knew where to look this time. A fair amount of the graves are now cemented in granite frames, and ss most are several hundred years old, they're rather fragile. Plus it doesn't help that the witch trial organizers are prime targets for the edgelords who drop by and want to dispense some of their own justice on a stone.
Beyond that is a memorial for those who did end up dying from the accusations. It's quite a sight, and they did a great job making it look as if the stones were cut centuries ago. If you have the chance, I highly recommend going any other time than September-October. Your sanity will thank you.